The First Train

April 1853. Bombay.

The first train in all of the Indian subcontinent is soon to make its first journey. Carsten O’Hara, born of an Irish father and a mother who earned notoriety in Bombay society as the daughter of a thuggee chief, is first-hand witness to the excitement of these times. For many, the train is a dream come true. There are others who are just as unhappy. All Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General, wants is the glory and attention. The Indian merchants want the train to be a success for it would change things like nothing before.

But Lord Dalhousie has already turned many people against him — Nana Sahib and Rani Lakhsmibai included — who want him to recognise their rights. Then there are the conservatives in Bombay, unhappy over a temple’s relocation to make way for the railway line. Threats then begin to appear, and it is clear that enemies are close at hand. Carsten has his heart set on the train and as he faces off every danger, he is also confronted with difficult choices — especially those that make him believe that he can never fully belong to any side.

The First Train is a mystery, a coming-of-age story — and a fictitious reimagining of an amazing moment in the history of Bombay and India — the birth of the Railways.

Anuradha Kumar lives in New Jersey, US, and has written many books, the most recent of which, How the Railways Came to India, was published by Curato. Her next, A Changing World: Eyewitness Accounts of the Early Days of the Indian Railways is forthcoming from Curato.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *